Until recently there was widespread resistance among CIO’s and IT departments to Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, because of the inherent security risks and increased ability of employees to engage in personal activities at work. However, BYOD is a rapidly accelerating trend among many companies and law firms who view it as an asset to productivity that is worth these potential trade-offs when managed carefully.
A Cisco study completed in May 2012 points to potential benefits in cost and productivity, as well as the widespread acceptance of BYOD in modern workplaces. Not only do a massive 95% of organizations allow employees to bring outside devices into the workplace, but 84% provide some level of support for these devices, and 36% actually provide full support for employee’s outside devices. These large percentages belie the significant perceived benefits that BYOD provides, the top two of which were increased opportunities for collaboration and higher employee job satisfaction, according to the study.
There are of course significant challenges that organizations and IT departments in particular must confront to create procedures, policies, and infrastructure to take full advantage of BYOD without suffering from its drawbacks. Data protection was the primary concern noted in the study, as allowing outside devices with their own security (or lack of security) can create holes in data management and privacy protocols. The widespread adoption of BYOD does seem to indicate that a large number of organizations see this increased outside device support as a worthwhile investment. Indeed, 76% of IT leaders noted that BYOD could be “somewhat” or “extremely” positive for their organizations. Cisco estimates that the annual benefits from BYOD range from $300 to $1,300 per employee.
Regardless of personal preferences and opinions about employees bringing their own mobile devices to work, all of the data points toward the inevitability of BYOD coming to workplaces everywhere. Organizations that aren’t able to adapt to this change with strong IT support and clear rules governing BYOD may find themselves left behind, or at the very least missing out on an opportunity to decrease costs and increase employee satisfaction.
Some commenters on the zdnet blog shed some light on how they view BYOD in their own real-world workplaces. One commenter noted that after several months of bringing his own iPad to work he ditched his company Blackberry because “the larger screen and virtual keyboard make it much easier to respond, open attachments, and whatnot.” There are of course downsides even for individual employees, not just IT departments. The same commenter said that at his workplace he had to agree to allow corporate IT administrative access to remotely wipe his device if lost or stolen, and he had to agree to surrender the device for examination in the event of some sort of IT incident.
For more information on how to implement effective BYOD policies, take a look at Monica Bay’s article in Law Technology News.